22 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Chaos in Court As MDC-T Youths Denied Freedom

Photo: Nehanda Radio
MDC-T supporters (file photo).

THERE was near pandemonium at the Harare Magistrates' Court on Friday after seven MDC-T youths who are facing charges of public violence were remanded in custody.

MDC-T youths who were in court immediately broke into revolutionary song and dance demanding the release of their colleagues.

Magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe had earlier granted the seven youths $300 bail each after they were arrested and charged with public violence while demonstrating in Harare earlier this week demanding that government provide them with jobs.

A photojournalist was also viciously assaulted and briefly detained during the protest.

Despite the granting of bail, state prosecutor, Barbra Ndoro, invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Code overriding Chikwekwe's decision.

This incensed the MDC-T youths who had packed the courtroom. Anti-riot police swiftly moved in to quell a potentially violent situation.

The agitated youths broke into song denigrating the authorities particularly prosecutors and the police.

"Order, order hatidi zvekupihwa order nemasasikamu (We do not want to get orders from ignoramuses)," they sang.

At the end of the court proceedings, Ndoro was forced to use the rear exit door under police escort after the youths barricaded the entrance.

The MDC-T youths were remanded in custody to September 2.

They include MP Ronia Bunjira, Youth of Zimbabwe for Transparency and Progress member, Danmore Tshuma, Bridget Nyandoro, Stanley Manyenga, Stewarty Gwebe, Unnete Chibinya and Keith Charumbira, a pastor of Holy Nations Ministries in Mabvuku.

The seven are also being charged with obstructing the free flow of persons or traffic after they engaged in an unsanctioned protest earlier this week.

They were demanding that the Zimbabwe government provide the 2.2 million jobs President Robert Mugabe promised during last year's election campaign.

Chikwekwe, in his ruling, had ordered the activists to reside at their given addresses and disagreed with the prosecution's claims that they would interfere with witnesses if they were granted bail.

"The State's fear that the accused persons will interfere with witnesses is not valid as l don't see how the accused persons can interfere with police officers who are witnesses in the matter," said Chikwekwe.

"From the submissions made by both parties, I do not see the accused persons endangering the safety of the public. I am of the view that all the candidates are not a flight-risk and the State has not given cogent reasons to support those submissions," Chikwekwe ruled.

He however said the defence counsel Obey Shava had spent much time on insignificant submissions in his bail application for the opposition party supporters.

"The lawyer spent a lot of time on unnecessary submissions instead of going straight on the bail application. It is detrimental to the accused persons who are forced to endure more time in incarceration," he said.

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